IF Rotherham United were able to play only half as well as they did when they met Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road in November then it would be more than satisfactory at the DVS tomorrow and at least some consolation for the loyal fans who probably haven’t enjoyed the three away defeats in the last two weeks.
Rotherham won that game 1-0 and their football throughout, particularly in the second half, was quite outstanding.
At this level it takes something to ‘out-football’ Dario Gradi’s side but that’s what happened in what was a surprisingly one-sided second half in which Marcus Marshall destroyed Crewe’s left-side defence.
The memory of that afternoon can only help offer up some encouragement as the Millers look to shake off the disappointment of the Port Vale result in midweek.
Crewe have strode up the table in recent times and are now among the promotion contenders. Like others Gradi’s side has its inconsistency but rarely are their games short of goals at either end.
For example, take their away record - they have scored 27 goals which is only bettered by Bury whilst they have conceded 29 which is the worst in the division.
In there is the 5-5 draw at Chesterfield and the last game they drew, 3-3 at Stockport nine games ago. Since then it’s been five wins and three defeats, the latest on Tuesday when they crashed 6-2 at Northampton.
In that game they brought back former Millers defender Dave Artell and, after a one-match ban, goalkeeper Rhys Taylor who saved an Adam Le Fondre penalty at Gresty Road.
They will again be without suspended front man Clayton Donaldson. On Tuesday boss Gradi paired two smaller players up front in AJ Leitch-Smith and Shaun Miller and looked to their movement and intelligent runs to unhinge Northampton’s back line.
Although they have lost their last three away games, Crewe have pulled off good wins at such as Gillingham and Shrewsbury.
Millers manager Ronnie Moore said: “We know how we have to be for this game and at their place we were strong and didn’t let them open us up and played really well when we had the ball.
Moore has a selection issue as midfielder Jason Taylor is available again after a three-match ban. Danny Harrison has been in his role in the last three games.
A win tomorrow will ensure Rotherham stay in the top three, but a draw could see them drop to sixth whilst defeat could see them drop to seventh - the place currently occupied by Crewe.